Overheard at a local restaurant

The following conversation, while slightly edited for the sake of brevity, really was heard recently in a Houston restaurant — I don’t make these things up. (Well, sometimes I do stuff up, but then I always admit to it by the end.)

GUY THE FIRST: I have this friend who only has one arm, and for the last seven Hallowe’ens he’s worn the same costume — he goes as the one-armed Led Zeppelin drummer. Seven years in a row! I think he needs to go as something different next year. Do you guys have any ideas?

GUY THE SECOND: Why doesn’t he go as a slot machine?

The new thing I learned today…

…is that apparently a lot of foreigners (especially from India) get to America and get a new first name: “Fnu.” Here’s how this happens:

1. Your visa has something like “Suralikrishnan” in the surname section, and nothing in the “first name” box.

2. The American immigration officer puts “FNU” (for “First Name Unknown”) in the “first name” section of your immigration paperwork.

3. The Social Security officer who looks at your paperwork, or the DPS lady who does your driver’s licence, thinks your first name is Fnu and enters you into the American identity system as “Fnu Suralikrishnan.”

4. Later on you run into trouble because now some of your paperwork says that your first name is “Fnu” but your Indian passport, for example, doesn’t say that. And now you get to go through months of trouble trying to get the American government to change its opinion that your first name is Fnu.

Of course you all know my reaction to that: “And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him…Bill, George, anything but Fnu!!” Actually it would be really tempting to name the kid Fnu Pierce, simply because when I got a letter in my mailbox today addressed to previous resident Fnu Jusfiannur, my instant first reaction was, “What a cool name!”